**This is the fourth post in a series taken from my MMA blog. Similar to my series on the UFC, I will recapping and ranking all things PRIDE beginning with their first event. Be sure to check Fight Rankings for more in this series, which includes cumulative fight and fighter rankings for the early UFC and PRIDE events.**
It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these posts, but I guess you could say that I’m recovering from a PRIDE 3 hangover. Seriously, Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton has blown my mind. As a huge grappling fan, I’m not sure that MMA can get any better than that for me. Still, I must move on and look forward to other fights.
Like Sakuraba’s next fight! Kazushi is back to take on UFC veteran and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Allan Goes. That’s not all, as we have a very stacked evening of fights. Gary Goodridge, perhaps one of the most experienced MMA fighters based on his time in the UFC and PRIDE, will take on a Ukrainian newcomer to PRIDE in Igor Vovchanchyn. Fan favorite Akira Shoji will take on yet another former UFC fighter in Wallid Ismail.
We’ve got Mark Kerr and Marco Ruas, but perhaps the most interesting fight is a rematch from the main event of PRIDE 1. Nobuhiko Takada will give it another shot when he goes up the legendary Rickson Gracie. How fitting that this fight takes place on the very first anniversary of the PRIDE promotion! Takada vs. Gracie was a fantastic spectacle, even if the original fight was slightly lackluster. But hey, maybe Takada’s warm-up fight against Kyle Sturgeon was just what the doctor ordered! [Insert joke here]
You know who else is fighting tonight? Those two fuck faces that ruined PRIDE 2, Yuhi Sano and Sanae Kikuta. Oh Jesus, this is like a nightmare. Now what? Is this when I kill myself? Do I end this blog so I just don’t have to write about their fights? I have to trudge through this, maybe they’ll both die in the ring. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
Regardless, it’s still PRIDE and some of the fights will still be good. It’s an anniversary! It’s a celebration! Our little baby PRIDE is now one year old, aww, how it’s grown! I remember when it was yay high and in it’s weird little freak show phase. Now…we’ll, the freak shows are maybe a bit more subtle. Whatever, it’s just been a year. Let’s carry on.
PRIDE 4 – October 11, 1998
We kick off tonight’s event with a big one as heavyweights Igor Vovchanchyn and Gary Goodridge will square off. Both men are around the 240 pound mark, except that Vovchanchyn is seven inches shorter than his opponent. You read that right: the 6’3″ Gary Goodridge towers over his opponent, who stands a Cormier-ian 5’8″ inches tall.
Before we go any further, our favorites Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten welcome us to PRIDE 4, back at the epic Tokyo Dome. Bas has fantastic things to say about Vovchanchyn, saying he has fantastic knockout power and is very quick. Bas isn’t kidding as Vovchanchyn has more than 20 knockout victories in less than three years of active competition, numbers that even put the heavy-handed Goodridge to shame.
Vovchanchyn opens up with a leg kick, but Goodridge rushes in with a punch and moves into the clinch. Surprisingly, Goodridge drags Vovchanchyn to the mat and goes into his guard. Vovchanchn has somehow been busted open and is pretty pretty badly right now. Goodridge interestingly drops back for a heel hook and is unsurprisingly unsuccessful. Vovchanchyn briefly moves into mount before Goodridge gives up his back and escapes fairly easily.
Rather than standing back up, Goodridge decides to stay on the mat and move back into Vovchanchyn’s guard. He tries to pass guard but is initially unsuccessful. Goodridge starts to throw some big punches from guard, but Vovchanchyn is able to push Goodridge away and gets back to his feet. Goodridge again clinches with his opponent and drags him to the mat. An interesting strategy from “Big Daddy”, who must feel like Vovchanchyn is too strong to compete with standing.
Goodridge is able to move into half guard, but he isn’t throwing a lot of strikes at this point – just maintaining control. A bloody Vovchanchyn throws a little bit from the ground but doesn’t do any damage. Goodridge postures up to punch, but is once again kicked away by the Ukrainian. While standing over his downed opponent, Goodridge asks the official if he’s allowed to kick Vovchanchyn in the face. Actually, what comes out of Goodridge’s mouth is, “CAN I KICK FACE!? CAN I KICK FACE!?” The referee shakes his head to this unintentionally hilarious request. At least Bas is laughing.
Goodridge gives Vovchanchyn enough space to get back up and Goodridge gets tagged with a couple of quick punches. Goodridge goes to clinch again but is tossed aside by Vovchanchyn and eats a couple of punches. Goodridge successfully clinches but Vovchanchyn breaks the hold again and lands some more clean punches. Goodridge and Vovchanchyn are now singing away and Vovchanchyn lands a couple of big lefts, dropping Goodridge against the ropes! Goodridge’s legs are gone and Vovchanchyn moves in for the kill, but the official wisely stops this fight.
Goodridge looks perplexed by the stoppage, though I’m not sure if he disagrees with the fight being stopped or if he just doesn’t remember what happened. Goodridge got tagged and was on spaghetti legs at that point. I feel like Vovchanchyn could have done some serious harm to Goodridge and this was a good stoppage. Vovchanchyn has taken a somewhat surprising victory but a win over Gary Goodridge has ensured that we’ll be seeing him once again in PRIDE.
This second bout should be another good one with Akira Shoji taking on Wallid Ismail. Shoji has been one of the most impressive PRIDE fighters not named Kazushi Sakuraba. He has two draws to his name, but he’s looked competitive in every fight and has the same kind of resilience that we’ve seen from Sakuraba.
The fight opens with Shoji and Ismail trading punches before Ismail drops down to take Shoji down. Shoji grabs hold of Ismail’s head in a front facelock and even lands a knee to Ismail, but the Brazilian is able to push forward and come near completion on the takedown. What say you, El Guapo? “Where there’s a will, there’s a road, they say. There’s a way! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Oh good. I know some American sayings. That’s cool.”
Ismail isn’t quite able to complete the takedown with Shoji backed against the ropes, but the fighters adjust positions and Ismail briefly enters Shoji’s guard. Ismail’s style of takedowns appears to be to put his head down and relentlessly drive forward without deviating from the plan. Shoji is eventually able to stand, even with Ismail continuing to push forward.
Shoji is able to stay cool in collected, even with his opponent’s relentless takedown attempt. This has been one long, continuous takedown that finally ends when Shoji accepts Ismail into his closed guard. Ismail looks red and appears to have expended a lot of energy and he begins to throw some punches from the top, but Shoji defends by kicking Ismail away. Without fail, Ismail recovers and takes Shoji back down, this time moving into half guard.
The referee is calling for action, as Ismail isn’t doing a ton from this spot. He’s landing some punches that don’t have a whole lot behind them as we reach the half way point of this round. Ismail’s transition attempts look similar to his takedown attempts as he just grabs Shoji and drives forward, hoping for the best. This ends up being successful as Ismail takes the full mount.
Ismail begins to throw punches from the position, but you can hear him breathing heavy and sucking in air. Shoji is able to buck Ismail and free himself completely, getting back to his feet. Now Shoji unleashes, throwing big punches and stunning Ismail before he moves in again for another takedown. Shoji is pinned against the ropes, but Ismail pursues the takedown and moves into side control. He’s landing cleaner shots here, but Shoji seems cool and collected.
Ismail moves back to full mount and Shoji appears to be in trouble Ismail is throwing, but misses with most of his punches from here. As Ismail goes to throw more punches, Shoji nicely escapes by rolling out of mount and getting back to his feet. Shoji goes to throw more punches, but Ismail drives forward with the takedown and backs Shoji against the ropes. Ismail is successful and again moves into guard. He at least tries to keep throwing punches from guard even if they’re not landing very cleanly. The round ends with Ismail in guard.
After a brief break, the second round begins. The referee quickly pulls a sponsor logo from Ismail’s trunks, as it had been falling off during the first round. Bas jokes that Ismail will be getting less money after that gaffe. Shoji opens the round with a nice low kick and some big punches that drop Ismail! Quadros and Bas think that Shoji looks kind of out of it and they wonder if he ate a big punch that caught him off guard or if he’s just tired.
Ismail is trudging forward slowly and looks way out of it and he gets tagged by Shoji. The fan favorite Shoji lands some big combos and wobbles Ismail, prompting the referee to step in and stop the action! This was similar to the stoppage in Vovchanchyn vs. Goodridge in that Ismail wasn’t completely out, but seemed to be very dazed and stopped defending himself. A big win for Akira Shoji!
And now a fight that might force me to take my own life as Daijiro Matsui takes on Sanae Kikuta. You might remember Kikuta for being the most boring fighter of all time, putting on the worst fight in PRIDE history with Renzo Gracie. I can tell you with supreme confidence that it was through no fault of Gracie’s that the fight was so bad.
I’m not the only one who remembers this fight, as Bas lets us all know that he hopes for more from Kikuta. “Now hopefully he’s going to do more than he did in his last fight because if he’s going to fight the same fight as he did against Renzo Gracie, then I’m afraid this is not going to be very exciting.” Yep, that sounds about right. Quadros sounds unfounded optimistic, though he reminds us that there are more strict time limits in place now.
Kikuta opens the fight with a couple of quick punches and gets in the body lock with Matsui. Kikuta attempts to pull Matsui away from the ropes for a takedown and is eventually successful When he scores the takedown, Bas pleads with Kikuta to be active on the ground. Quadros brings up examples of exciting ground fights like Newton vs. Sakuraba, saying that a fight on the ground doesn’t have to be boring
Kikuta postures up a bit and lands some punches from the top, but that doesn’t last very long. Matsui struggles a bit from the bottom, working for a more advantageous position and even landing some punches from his back. Kikuta responds with a hug, aww. Oh, you mean he’s just laying there? Well that’s no surprising.
Three fights in and we get our very first referee adjustment! Kikuta and Matsui are pulled away from the ropes so Kikuta can be more centrally boring. Actually, Kikuta and Matsui trade punches a bit before Kikuta postures up. Matsui tries to push Kikuta away, but he regains guard and actually moves to half guard. Matsui reverses positions and tries to get back to his feet, but Kikuta repeats with a body lock and a takedown.
Kikuta is quickly able to move into side control and you can hear one of the fighters gasping for air at this point. I’m stunned to hear that so early and I can’t tell who it is, though it appears that Matsui might be the one. Kikuta moves into mount and attempts a choke, but he’s shrugged back into side control. Kikuta doesn’t do much before Matsui reverses and gets back to his feet, but again, Kikuta grabs the body lock and sweeps Matsui to the mat.
Kikuta finds most of his trouble when he tries to posture up in guard, as Matsui lands some big upkicks to the stomach. Kikuta tries to regain side control, but Matsui reverses and takes side control himself. He looks close to assuming north/south position, but Matsui will have to be content with side control Matsui is landing some knees from this spot but doesn’t do any damage. Matsui tries to advance position, but Kikuta shrugs him off and both men are on their feet.
Matsui is the slightly more active fighter on his feet, throwing some leg kicks and nice punches that land cleanly. Matsui inexplicably stops pushing forward and stands in place as the round ends. This first round wasn’t too bad at all. Certainly I’ve seen more exciting, but this didn’t bore me to death. These fighters seem evenly matched and have had varying levels of success early on.
Before the round begins, the referee has Kikuta’s corner wipe him down since he appears to be too wet. Matsui starts the second round with what appears to be some kind of funky dropkick? I can’t tell, but it definitely doesn’t land. Matsui lands on the mat and this allows Kiktua to easily move into side control. Quadros suspects that it’s Kikuta who is breathing heavy at this point.
Bas encourages Kikuta to, “crossface, pull yourself out, bangedabangedabang, and there you go.” Kikuta has been pretty inactive from the top and hasn’t tried a ton of strikes, but Bas thinks Kikuta knees to try some knees. Quadros and Bas consider out loud whether or not knees to the head are allowed against a grounded opponent and they tentatively conclude that they are legal. Kikuta is now throwing a few weak punches from side control, but he’s not doing any damage.
Kikuta moves into full mount and tries to pull off a front choke or a mounted guillotine. Matsui tries to arch out of the hold and is successful, though Kikuta is able to claim side control once again. Quadros confirms what we’ve all been thinking by saying that Kikuta is not an exciting fighter. Bas is a bit kinder and says that Kikuta is very talented, but doesn’t use it right.
Kikuta is able to move to mount again and the referees move the fighters away from the ropes. Matsui tries to bridge out of mount but accidentally gives up his back in the process. Kikuta gets too high and Matsui slips out from the hold and takes half guard. Kikuta eventually reverses the position himself and moves into Matsui’s guard. The second round ends from this position. We definitely had a bit of a regression in this round, since the first round was actually fairly entertaining. This one? Not so much.
The third round opens quite predicably with a Kikuta bodylock, which inevitably leads to a takedown attempt. Matsui grabs onto the ropes in an attempt to defend, but Kikuta is successful as he has been for most of the contest. Kikuta is stagnant for sometime but moves into mount and attempt that same choke once again. Matsui flips him over and moves into guard, freeing himself from the choke.
Matsui spends a few minutes in guard trading some weak punches with his opponent. The only action comes right before the one minute mark, where the referees adjust the fighters away from the ropes, still my favorite thing about PRIDE. The fight ends with Matsui on top having done very little.
Notice how the last ten minutes of this fight were condensed into two brief paragraphs? It’s because absolutely nothing happened. After a decent first round, I’ve been subjected to twenty minutes of garbage. I feel like PRIDE made these fights solely to infuriate a part time MMA blogger 13 years down the line. Because I am furious. Personally angry at PRIDE. The fight was ruled a draw, but really, who gives a shit?
If any man could lift my spirits after that mess, it’s Kazushi Sakuraba. Lucky for me, the next fight will pit Kazushi Sakuraba against Allan Goes. Holy shit, holy shit, this is going to be great. Quadros reveals that Goes is teammates with Marcus Silveira, who Sakuraba defeated at UFC Ultimate Japan, so there could be a degree of payback in this contest.
Sakuraba throws a front kick to open up the fight and then scores an ankle pick takedown. Here’s where things should get fun. Sakuraba works to pass Goes’ guard, but the Brazilian defends the attempt very well. Goes is landing punches from his back as Sakuraba struggles in Goes’ modified butterfly guard. Goes tries to sink in a guillotine but Sakuraba passes into side control. The choke appears to be tight, but Sakuraba slips out and stands back up. Sakuraba’s ear appears to be busted open, but it’s no big deal at this point.
Sakuraba is throwing kicks to his downed opponent, while Goes is trying for some lunging up kicks. Sakuraba tries an awesome cartwheel to move into an advantageous position, but Goes lands a big up kick that catches Sakuraba flush in the face. A lot of this fight is being spent with Sakuraba standing over goes, but it’s actually been pretty entertaining. Sakuraba is involved, how on earth could it possibly be boring?
Sakuraba eats a couple of up kicks to move into guard and Goes seems desperate to keep Sakuraba away. He flails wildly, throwing kicks as if he’s a child being put to bed. Seriously, Goes’ strategy resembles nothing I’ve ever seen in mixed martial arts. He’s just laying on his back with the legs in the air, kicking in and around the area where Sakuraba might be standing. As usual, the unflappable Sakuraba holds his position and tries for a knee bar or ankle lock, but Goes escapes. He actually stands back up and tries to drag Sakuraba to the mat, but Sakuraba somehow reverses and ends up in side control.
Sakuraba is quickly back into guard, again with both of Goes’ butterfly hooks in. Sakuraba stands up and Goes tries the up kicks again, but Sakuraba is not deterred with just three minutes left in this round. Goes is wisely using his legs to defend from Sakuraba and he actually scores a nice sweep on Sakuraba, who without missing a beat, stands back up and hovers over Goes. Sakuraba is eventually taken down by Goes and Sakuraba tries for an arm, but Goes is able to sink in a rear naked choke! Unfortunately, Goes doesn’t get his hooks in and can’t secure the hold, allowing Sakuraba to stand back up.
Goes has been having some success with those sweeps from off his back, picking Sakuraba’s ankle and dragging him down. This time, Goes is able to gain control and goes for another choke but Sakuraba slips out and moves back to guard. The first round ends and in a great show of sportsmanship, Sakuraba helps Goes back to his feet.
This was a very good first round, though it didn’t match the evenness and the drama of what we saw in Sakuraba vs. Newton. I’ve still enjoyed this thoroughly and I’m anxious to see who will take control in the next round. Goes spend a lot of time on his back and has yet to figure Sakuraba out, though he did come very close with some of his choke attempts.
Similar to the first round, Sakuraba scores an ankle pick takedown. I’m sure Goes could defend this hold more capably, but he seems much happier fighting on the ground even if that means he’s on his back. Goes is working to control Sakuraba’s left arm, but Sakuraba is able to free himself as he works to advance into side control. Goes defends and Sakuraba is forced to stay in guard.
Sakuraba tries again to transition, but Goes scores a nice reversal and moves into Sakuraba’s guard! Saku briefly considers an armbar but gives up on that idea pretty quickly. Sakuraba has been bloodied by some of Goes’ strikes at this point. Goes is able to advance into more of a north/south position and Bas suspects we’ll see some knees from Goes. Sakuraba sees fit to give up his back and attempt to roll into some kind of arm bar, but is unsuccessful. Goes tries yet another rear naked choke, but Sakuraba escapes and is back in guard!
The referee warns Goes for striking Sakuraba on the back of the head and heeds said warning. Sakuraba attempts to transition which allows Goes to sink in a choke, but Sakuraba tries for a roll through into a kimura! Goes is able to defend the hold and actually ends up back in guard. Sakuraba gives up his back as he is wont to do and he eventually rolls through and ends up back on top. Goes kicks Sakuraba away and Sakuraba is back on his feet.
Goes is very active with some varied up kicks but doesn’t have a ton of success. The round ends with Sakuraba standing over his opponent in what was another very entertaining ten minute period. Goes seemed to be in more control during that round, though Sakuraba scored a number of his patented reversals and escapes.
I’m having a hard time figuring Sakuraba out. Specifically, what makes this guy so good? He’s not a BJJ master with years of training and he’s still a relative newcomer to MMA. Sakuraba must have some inherent knowledge of the human body and has an innate sense of how to make the best out of each and every situation. You don’t seem someone with this kind of talent every day and to a certain extent, this has to be something he was born with.
We’re not even at the end of this fight and all I want to do is wax poetic about Sakuraba and his exploits. I don’t know that there’s been another fighter like Sakuraba, where there’s no situation to sticky or no hold too dangerous. I never feel like Sakuraba is in danger or is in a bad spot just because I know he’ll escape or reverse to a more advantageous position. This man is superhuman in his grappling and he has singlehandedly turned MMA into an art form.
The third and final round begins with the competitors touching gloves. Sakuraba goes for a single leg which is now defended by Goes, who ends up in guard. The fighters trade punches but are near the ropes, forcing the referees to adjust the fighters. Immediately after the restart, Sakuraba works for an armbar that doesn’t end up coming to fruition. Goes maintains top position and takes Sakuraba’s back as he works to advance positions. Goes wants another choke but Sakuraba turtles up and won’t allow that to happen.
Goes actually has Sakuraba’s right leg grapevined, which briefly prevents Saku from advancing or moving into a more advantageous spot. Sakuraba tries to work back to his feet and ends up getting caught with a deep choke! Sakuraba is grimacing as Goes maintains the hold, but Sakuraba escapes and moves into Goes’ guard! Incredible!!
The bloodied Sakuraba stands over his opponent once more, throwing more leg kicks than he had in previous rounds. Goes is also more inactive and isn’t throwing the up kicks we had seen in previous rounds. Goes stands back up but is almost immediately taken down by Sakuraba. In no time at all, Sakuraba is standing back over Goes. Now Goes is working some kicks, using an up kick stomp to Sakuraba’s gut. Goes is also attempting some push kicks at Sakuraba’s bandaged knee.
The fight ends from this position and is declared a draw. I’m not sure what the current judging situation is like, but I guess a draw here can’t be argued with. Sakuraba thanks Carlson Gracie, Goes’ trainer, after this contest. Gracie seems to praise Sakuraba after this great contest, which is well-deserved.
I really enjoyed this fight, but it certainly wasn’t as transcendent as the Sakuraba vs. Newton fight. Frankly, I thought that Goes looked a little more impressive than Sakuraba. He came close to finishing the fight on multiple occasions and always seemed able to take control. I felt like Goes dictated more of the pace, though Goes and Sakuraba were both equally interested in a grappling war. That isn’t to take anything away from Sakuraba as both fighters looked good, but Goes put on a very impressive performance here.
We go from a couple of great fighters to one fighter who has pissed me off in Yuhi Sano, who will be fighting Satoshi Honma. Sano, much like Sanae Kikuta, put on an awful fight with a Gracie at PRIDE 2. This one was against Royler Gracie, who couldn’t muster up the guts to make his fight with Sano not suck.
Honma opens up with a low kick and some strikes and he ends up catching Sano quickly with a clean right hand! Sano is dropped and Honma attempts to follow up, but Sano is back to his feet. Honma is very confident and tries for more strikes at this point, but Sano easily dumps Honma to the mat and scores a takedown. Sano spends a little time in guard before Honma escapes and gets back to his feet.
Once he’s back up, Honma comes out swinging with some punches. He lands some standing elbows on Sano and then opens up with a leg kick. Sano tries to answer back with some punches, but misses badly and eats some punches and kicks from Honma. Sano clinches when he’s backed against the ropes to avoid any further damage from his opponent. Honma lands some quick knees as the clinch is broken, both men back in the center of the ring now.
Sano sees fit to try some more strikes, to which Honma incredulously replies with a wild flurry of punches that stumbles Sano. Honma uses the clinch to land some punches and knees and he’s very quick to move in and out of positions. The bloody Sano is off guard because of Honma’s varied striking, but also because he has no clue what he doing. Sano also has a stupid fat face and I don’t like him.
Honma is punching Sano at will at this point. Sano is doing his best do defend, which isn’t particularly good. Honma is landing whatever he wants, scoring punches to the head and body along with low kicks. Sano’s weak punch attempts are just pathetic and they leave Sano open for even more abuse from Honma.
Sano is so bloody at this point that Bas suggests he has his face sprayed with a yet to be invented super glue spray. He says that Sano could put cucumber slices over his eyes, have the spray adhered to his face, and then he could remove the cucumber slices so that his cuts will be sealed and he’ll still have full use of his eyes. Bas makes no specific mention of Sano’s mouth, which will inevitably be glued shut.
Honma and Sano are now trading wildly and Honma is getting the best of the action. After the exchange, the referee stops the action and has doctor’s look at Sano’s cuts. The fight is restarted after Sano is wiped down, as his cuts don’t look all too bad right now.
Honma throws some big punches and leg kicks after the restart. Sano eats multiple knees to the face and Honma is chopping him down with leg kicks. Quadros says that Sano is getting his “ass kicked” as Honma continues to land knees and punches that go completely unanswered. Sano continues to bleed out of his multiple cuts as Honma throws knees and punches and is finally able to chop Sano down with a low kick.
Somehow, the referee refuses to stop the action despite Sano being dropped to the mat. Honma jumps back on his opponent and throws a series of punches until the referee finally stops the action and declares Honma the winner. Thank God for Satoshi Honma, who was able to liven this fight by beating the shit out of the completely worthless Yuhi Sano. I’m so glad this one is done, though I found some perverse joy in watching Sano get dismantled.
This next battle should be quite interesting. UFC and PRIDE veteran Marcos Ruas will take on Alexander Otsuka. Otsuka is a Japanese professional wrestler who will be making his PRIDE debut here. He’s certainly being thrown right into the fire having to battle Ruas. But don’t fear, it appears that Tiger Mask is in Otsuka’s corner. So he’s got that. Otsuka adopted his wrestling name “Alexander” from Olympic great Alexander Karelin.
The fighters briefly feel each other out to start the fight. Otsuka shoots in for a takedown but eats a really hard kick in the process. He’s able to finish the takedown and move into guard, quickly transitioning into half guard. Bas is shown in the corner of Ruas early on in this fight. I hope Bas and Tiger Mask get involved, that would be a fun tag match.
Otsuka maintains control in guard and is landing some punches, but he’s generally staying inactive here. Ruas is trying to control Otsuka by grasping around his back, but Otsuka not only breaks the hold but also gets back to his feet. Otsuka is throwing some leg kicks toward his downed opponent, landing some foot stomps as well. Otsuka only spends a little bit of time standing before moving back into guard. Ruas almost rolls through, but Otsuka maintains top control and moves into half guard.
Ruas is amazingly able to sweep Otsuka and reverse positions into full mount, which is bad news for Otsuka. Ruas tries to land some strikes from mount and there’s just one minute left in the round. Otsuka gives up his back and Ruas gets his hooks in! Ruas is interested in sinking in a choke but Otsuka turtles up to prevent the damage. Ruas sinks in the choke and it appears to be over Otsuka’s mouth and not under his jaw. The bell rings and Ruas is forced to give up the hold. Otsuka’s nose is bloodied, but he survives that first round.
Bas reveals that Ruas was injured when sparring with Mark Kerr prior to this fight and it sounds like it was a pretty bad knee injury. Rather than treating the injury locally, Ruas decided to take anti-inflammatory drugs which Bas doesn’t agree with. He makes it sound like this injury could hamper Ruas’ performance, though that remains to be seen.
The second round opens and both men seem exhausted. Otsuka was on the defense for a lot of that first round while Ruas’ injury is potentiall debilitating. Otsuka shoots in for a takedown that Ruas easily defends, but he’s really sweating and gasping for air here. Otsuka gives up the takedown and gets back to his feet, where he throws a few punches and clinches with Ruas. They spend quite a bit of time in the clinch before Otsuka is able to sweep Ruas to the mat.
Otsuka is landing some punches from the top and Ruas can’t do a whole lot to defend or respond to these strikes. Otsuka spends a significant amount of time on top of Ruas and the Brazilian fighter is bloodied and exhausted with just one minute left in the round. Otsuka is really getting into it and swinging wildly, working to finish the second round strong. Otsuka has controlled the duration of this round and Marco Ruas just hasn’t looked like himself. The round ends and Ruas struggles to get back to his feet.
Ruas is keeled over in his corner and being attended to by doctors and his cornermen and he ends up stopping the fight! Ruas cannot continue and Alexander Otsuka has upset Marco Ruas! Otsuka backflips off the ropes and pumps up the crowd after his victory. Knowing about Ruas’ injury situation puts this in perspective, but it’s still a big win for the wrestler. Since this win is not without controversy, Otsuka is only presented with a very small trophy.
This next contest will be between two veterans in Mark Kerr and Hugo Duarte. Bas, who trains with Kerr, says this is the best shape that Mark Kerr has ever been in. I guess that he’s timed his cycles just right going into this fight. Good for him!
Kerr opens the fight with a high kick that misses. Duarte follows up with some quick punches but is taken to the mat by Kerr. Kerr spends a couple of inactive minutes in the guard before backing off and moving to his feet. Kerr throws some leg kicks at his downed opponent before rushing back into guard. It actually looks like Duarte invited Kerr back into guard and Kerr was glad to oblige him.
Bas Rutten makes dolphin noises. No context will be provided.
The referees back Kerr and Duarte away from the ropes and Kerr begins to throw some big punches. He again stands over his opponent and throws these big chopping kicks, though Duarte doesn’t seem to be hurt. Kerr rushes back to the mat and throws some punches before entering the guard again.
The fighters are again pulled from the ropes and Kerr again answers back with some punches. He throws some heavier shots on and off and stands back up over Duarte with just one minute left in the first round. The first round ends rather uneventfully. That didn’t look like the Mark Kerr we all know, as Hugo Duarte didn’t have his entrails ripped out through his asshole. Mark Kerr usually opens up violently to try for a win. Maybe this is a new, more patient Mark Kerr.
Bas is hilarious as he pretends to be going back and forth from ringside to the announcer’s booth. Bas is shown cornering Kerr while talking at the same time, fooling absolutely nobody.
To start the second round, Kerr quickly takes Duarte to the mat and lands some big punches. Duarte’s right eye gets busted open pretty badly and the referee has the doctors look at the damage. After some time, it is decided that the fight will be restarted on the mat with Kerr in control.
Kerr is landing some punches from the top while Duarte is just shouting out while on his back. I have no clue what Duarte is trying to say, but he sounds like a concerned deaf man. Duarte’s Portuguese yelling doesn’t seem to be understandable to both the Japanese referee and his American opponent.
Kerr leans in from guard and lands a headbutt and Duarte reacts as if he’s been shot. He shouts out in pain and writhes around the mat as the referee stops the contest. Duarte is laying on the back as if he’s dying and this is really disingenuous on Duarte’s part. Kerr did absolutely nothing to prompt this reaction and the announcers feel the same way. Bas wonders if Duarte’s, “nose bone shot into his brain.”
The men are restarted on their feet and Kerr rushes in, which prompts Duarte to fall backwards. He’s able to coax Kerr into guard, but Duarte hasn’t been able to do anything with Kerr thus far. Kerr gets back to his feet and stands over Duarte, but again moves into guard when it’s clear that Duarte has little interest in engaging. The very bizarre second round has ended and I have no clue what we might see in the third.
The fighters tough gloves to start this third round and, amazingly, Duarte falls backwards to begin the round. The crowd jeers at Duarte for his actions and, even as Kerr backs away, Duarte refuses to get back to his feet. Bas shouts out “Jesus Christ, man!” and compares this fight to Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali, though it’s noted that Inoki was actually active off of his back.
Kerr decides to follow Duarte to the ground and angrily assaults his opponent, who dives through the ropes like a coward. Duarte is really struggling and is rolling around on his back like a baby. The referee is trying to coax Duarte to his feet and he falls backwards as he attempts to stand. He doesn’t appear to be hurt, but that’s what we’re dealing with.
Bas Rutten hums the theme for the X-Files. No context will be provided.
Kerr decides to go into guard with Duarte if only to pound on his opponent. The Japanese crowd is fed up with Duarte as they chant the name of Mark Kerr. Duarte slinks through the ropes whenever Kerr is on the offensive. The referees attempt to restart the fight away from the ropes, but Duarte is clearly working to get into the ropes. Duarte is trying to escape the ring and the referee has no choice but to stop this fight!
I have no fucking idea what we just saw, but I wonder if it was the mental breakdown of Hugo Duarte. Mark Kerr is given a lovely crystal trophy for his troubles while Hugo Duarte will be committed to a mental institution, never to compete in PRIDE again. What on earth was that??
This last contest of the night is appropriate, given this is the one year anniversary of PRIDE. Rickson Gracie will take on Nobuhiko Takada in a rematch of the fight that started it all. We’re still unsure what PRIDE is and what form it will take, but Gracie vs. Takada started it for better or for worse.
The crowd cheers wildly for Takada before the ring announcements. Takada is wearing an absolutely fantastic rope that I wish I had in my personal collection. Gracie is clad in white as we’ve seen him before. These Japanese people are firmly behind Takada, though it didn’t mean much during his first contest with Gracie.
The fight opens with Rickson shooting into the clinch and Takada utilizing the double underhook. The fighters exchange knees and Takada almost drags Gracie to the mat, but he’s able to maintain control. Bas and Quadros both feel like Takada has no choice but to strike with Rickson in this fight and I tend to agree with that. It’s just a matter of whether or not Takada can execute that gameplan.
Takada breaks the clinch and throws some punches, but Gracie moves in close again. Takada has Gracie backed against the ropes in the clinch and Rickson is throwing some punches to his opponent’s body. Rickson is definitely getting the better of the strikes while Takada is just interested in maintaining control. The crowd is chanting for Takada, who seems way too timid to get anything done right now.
Gracie is pinned in the corner but he’s still landing more strikes. Takada is throwing some light knees but Gracie is landing cleaner shots to the body before trying to utilizes his own underhooks for a takedown. Takada is throwing a series of knees while pushing Gracie along the ropes, but I can’t see any way those are hurting Gracie, who is throwing knees of his own.
Rickson drops to the mat after a knee from Takada, but it looks like that was a ploy to bring Takada into his guard. Bas thinks that Rickson is really hurt, but methinks he’s doing just fine right now. Takada spends a little more time standing before he drags Takada down into his guard. Quadros is adamant that Takada needs to stand back up, but he’s perfectly content in Gracie’s guard. He’s also a damned fool.
Now let’s try to figure out what Takada is going to do for here. Is he posturing up to strike Gracie? No, that doesn’t look right. Is he trying to stand and escape? Maybe, that seems like it would be the prudent decision at this point. What on earth is Takada doing? He couldn’t possibly be dropping back for a heel hook, could he?
Oh, that’s exactly what this prideful fucking idiot is doing. Why not grab hold of the ankle of one of the best grapplers in the world and try to submit him? What could possibly go wrong here? Well, lots could go wrong. Perhaps Takada didn’t think forward to the point where this move is obviously unsuccessful and Gracie is able to take over because that’s exactly what happens.
As Takada falls back with the heel, Bas and Quadros both shout out “No! No!” and implore Takada to get back to his feet, but it’s too late. Gracie quickly gains control and takes mount, but Takada bucks Gracie off. Gracie is again successful with the mount and is fully in control. Bas is amazed how improved Takada is at this point, which I think just means he’s pleased that Takada isn’t dead.
From mount, Gracie sinks in a crossface and is really going for an armbar as Takada tries for another heel hook! Gracie takes mount at will and finally sinks in the armbar that ends the fight, but Takada’s effort was certainly stronger than it was during their first fight.
After the contest, Gracie gives an interview saying that he’ll be looking for a tough opponent after this contest. Bas mentioned during PRIDE 3 that he would like to fight Rickson and I wonder if that’s not the tough opponent he’s alluding to. Rickson says he’s pleased to spend his time in Japan and will continue fighting in Japan. I think he also says he enjoys the food, but I might have misheard that.
Well that’s a great way to end PRIDE 4: Rickson Gracie talking about Japanese food! The outcome of that fight was unsurprising, but I have to be fair and say that Takada was slightly improved. That could have just been Gracie toying with him, but I thought that Takada looked like a better fighter all round. He went from being a terrible fighter to being a capably terrible fighter. Good for him!
PRIDE continues to improve with each event as I thought that PRIDE 4 was the best yet. There wasn’t an individual fight that measured up to Sakuraba vs. Newton, but the card as a whole was very strong and was quite entertaining. Also, Yuhi Sano is a piece of shit and makes me very mad.
Though it’s been just one year, this is the last PRIDE event that will be taking place under the KRS banner. I’ll go into more detail during the PRIDE 5 write-up, but this is a pretty big change that will influence the direction of PRIDE going forward. We’re going to see some very interesting debuts and I’m very excited about Sakuraba’s next fight, but we’ll have to wait until next time to see how that goes!
Greatest Fights of PRIDE 4
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Allan Goes
- Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Gary Goodridge
- Akira Shoji vs. Wallid Ismail
- Alexander Otsuka vs. Marco Ruas
- Satoshi Honma vs. Yuhi Sano
- Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada
- Daijiro Matsui vs. Sanae Kikuta
- Mark Kerr vs. Hugo Duarte
Top Ten Fights Through PRIDE 4
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton – PRIDE 3
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Allan Goes – PRIDE 4
- Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Vernon White – PRIDE 2
- Akira Shoji vs. Renzo Gracie – PRIDE 1
- Akira Shoji vs. Daijiro Matsui – PRIDE 3
- Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Gary Goodridge – PRIDE 4
- Akira Shoji vs. Wallid Ismail – PRIDE 4
- Gary Goodridge vs. Oleg Taktarov – PRIDE 1
- Gary Goodridge vs. Amir Rahnavardi – PRIDE 3
- Marco Ruas vs. Gary Goodridge – PRIDE 2
Greatest Fighters of PRIDE 4
- Allan Goes (0-0-1)
- Kazushi Sakuraba (0-0-1)
- Igor Vovchanchyn (1-0)
- Akira Shoji (1-0)
- Satoshi Honma (1-0)
- Rickson Gracie (1-0)
- Mark Kerr (1-0)
- Alexander Otsuka (1-0)
- Gary Goodridge (0-1)
- Wallid Ismail (0-1)
- Marco Ruas (0-1)
- Daijiro Matsui (0-0-1)
- Sanae Kikuta (0-0-1)
- Nobuhiko Takada (0-1)
- Yuhi Sano (0-1)
- Hugo Duarte (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through PRIDE 4
- Kazushi Sakuraba (2-0-1)
- Rickson Gracie (2-0)
- Akira Shoji (2-0-2)
- Mark Kerr (3-0)
- Igor Vovchanchyn (1-0)
- Satoshi Honma (1-0)
- Renzo Gracie (1-0-1)
- Allan Goes (0-0-1)
- Alexander Otsuka (1-0)
- Carlos Newton (0-1)